The White House is in talks with billionaire Elon Musk about setting up SpaceX’s satellite internet service in Iran, CNN reported Friday.
The news agency cited U.S. officials familiar with the talks who said the White House saw the internet service, called Starlink, as a potential way to allow Iranians to access the internet, circumventing government restrictions.
Iran’s government severely curtailed internet access after protests erupted last month following the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who was detained by the country’s so-called morality police.
“We have our foot on the gas to do everything we possibly can to support the aspirations of the Iranian people,” a senior U.S. administration official told CNN.
“At the same time, it is truly an Iranian movement led by young girls and spreading to other aspects of society. And we do not want to in any way eclipse their movement,” the official said.
The White House did not immediately respond to VOA requests for comment.
Starlink, which uses satellites to beam internet service to terminals on the ground, has been providing internet services to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of that country.
CNN reported last week that SpaceX has asked the Pentagon to pay tens of millions of dollars per month to fund Starlink in Ukraine. Following the news reports of the request, Musk wrote on Twitter that he has withdrawn the funding request.
It is not known if Starlink is seeking U.S. government funding to allow it to operate in Iran.
Amini was arrested September 13 by Iran’s morality police for “improper wearing of the hijab.” She died three days later while in police custody, sparking widespread protests across the country.